Huckabee: Gay Behavior a Choice
Mike Huckabee is coming under quite a bit of fire for some remarks he made on yesterday’s “Meet the Press” about homosexuality:
MR. RUSSERT: But this is what concerns people. This, this is what you did say about homosexuality: “I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle.” That’s millions of Americans.
GOV. HUCKABEE: Tim, understand, when a Christian speaks of sin, a Christian says all of us are sinners. I’m a sinner, everybody’s a sinner. What one’s sin is, means it’s missing the mark. It’s missing the bull’s eye, the perfect point. I miss it every day; we all do. The perfection of God is seen in a marriage in which one man, one woman live together as a couple committed to each other as life partners. Now, even married couples don’t do that perfectly, so sin is not some act of equating people with being murderers or rapists…
MR. RUSSERT: But when you say aberrant or unnatural, do you believe you’re born gay or you choose to be gay?
GOV. HUCKABEE: I don’t know whether people are born that way. People who are gay say that they’re born that way. But one thing I know, that the behavior one practices is a choice. We may have certain tendencies, but how we behave and how we carry out our behavior–but the important issue that I want to address, because I think when you bring up the faith question, Tim, I’ve been asked more about my faith than any person running for president. I’m OK with that. I hope I’ve answered these questions very candidly and very honestly. I think it’s important for us to talk about it. But the most important thing is to find out, does our faith influence our public policy and how? I’ve never tried to rewrite science textbooks. I’ve never tried to come out with some way of imposing a doctrinaire Christian perspective in a way that is really against the Constitution. I’ve never done that.
On the surface, of course, Huckabee’s unquestionably right. People have predispositions but are responsible for their behavior. At the same time, though, the “choice” Huckabee offers gays is Hobson’s: be miserable or be a sinner.
Jeff Fecke‘s summary is apt: “Mike Huckabee thinks that God may have made homosexuals the way they are, and therefore, you’d best keep your legs crossed until death.” Or, as Steve Benen puts it, “So, Huckabee doesn’t actually care if someone is gay, he cares whether or not gays are celibate.” “No sex for you!” indeed.
Now, as Ficke acknowledges, “Huckabee thinks all sex outside of marriage is sinful. He just doesn’t think homosexuals should be able to ever get married. At least to each other.” That’s a Catch-22, to be sure.
On the other hand, this view represents majority opinion in the United States. In a recent Pew survey, 55 percent agreed that “it is a sin to engage in homosexual behavior” and 59 percent opposed gay marriage. The numbers were much higher (76 percent and 80 percent, respectively) for those with “a high level of religious commitment.”
There’s a difference, though, between attitude and public policy. Marriage, at least as currently practiced, is conferred by state action and therefore a policy matter. Sin, by contrast, is a purely religious matter, although there is undoubtedly an overlap between what a society considers sinful and what it makes illegal.
Matt Corley notes that “Huckabee has a record of using the power of government to discriminate against the choices that gay Americans make in their private lives.” The degree to which he would be empowered to do that as president is debatable; most of these policies are at the state and local level and any federal policy would require the consent of Congress — and likely a supermajority in the Senate.
Huckabee’s forthright expression on this issue will likely help him with a large part of the Republican nominating electorate. None of the other major GOP candidates are quite so outspoken on the issue. One would think, though, that it would hurt him in the general election in the (in my judgment unlikely) event he won the nomination.
Interestingly, though, none of the top tier Democrats support gay marriage — the most significant related issue that has reached the federal agenda — either.